Reinardt Janse van Rensburg has taken responsibility for the crash involving race leader Rui Costa that caused a minor controversy after the second stage of the Saudi Tour.
Video footage emerged of Costa appearing to push Van Rensburg, with the Portuguese rider saying the NTT rider was veering into him and so he put his hand up to protect himself. Costa added the South African rider came to the UAE Team Emirates bus after the stage to explain the situation, with the pair deciding to put the incident behind them.
Now, Van Rensburg has made his explanation public by releasing a statement on social media, which reads:
“Yesterday, I went down in a crash with 12km to go. After a lot of speculation in the media, I decided to allow some time to process the situation before I respond.
“There was speculation that Rui Costa made me fall, by pushing out his hand and knocking me off balance.
“To be honest the fall was initiated by me, as I touched the wheel of my team-mate in front of me, causing me to lose balance. I then hit the bike of Marco Marcato. At this point, Rui, who already had his hand around my face, gave me a push as a reaction to protect himself.
“It was so that the timing of the push came at that moment when my front wheel was stuck between Marco’s bike and his foot, which was coming back as he was pedaling.”
Van Rensburg added he is glad the race jury decided not to punish Costa, saying doing so would have been “too extreme” given the circumstances.
“In the end I knew that Rui would have trouble from the jury, who probably could have expelled him from the race. And while it’s true that his reaction didn’t help me to avoid crashing, I felt that that kind of punishment would be too extreme in this case as he didn’t purposefully endanger me, but it was merely a reaction in my opinion.”
Alongside this acceptance of blame, however, Van Rensburg did say he thinks riders should keep their hands on the handlebars and do their best to avoid “pushing or pulling” other riders.
“Furthermore, I would like to enforce the mentality that riders should keep their hands on the handlebars and avoid pushing or pulling other riders, which might endanger their safety. I hope we can move on from this issue now and do what we love…race our bikes hard!”
Two stages remain of the inaugural Saudi Tour, with Rui Costa having lost the leader’s jersey on stage three to Bahrain-McLaren’s Phil Bauhaus, who now leads Costa by just three seconds.